Everyone in my family lives to about ninety-six.
Unless they stop working, then they die the next day,
like my Uncle did when he was fifty-two.
My grandfather dropped dead in between fixing barbed-wire fences and moving sheep.
In his 95th year, he sent out Christmas cards that had a photo of him on his horse.
My mum said that’s just showing off.
My grandma was in a wheel chair for ten years,
but she still kept sewing and looking after other people’s kids.
I have the pinafore she was half-way through when she died.
When I was twelve my mum’s cancer came back.
They said she was dying and I was to become an orphan and live with a lady from
church. The woman lived in a big house by the river, I was half looking forward to it.
If you did a dot-to-dot of my mum in the stars, her shape would be a city sky line –
always busy and spreading out, all the lights on all the time.
I’d be in the shape of a dog, loyal and wanting to have a good time.
When I was thirty I got my grandma’s disease, where all your joints get strangled by
your bad thoughts. In the morning it’s the worst, like someone poured concrete on you,
if you don’t move it’ll set. I’d sit on the side of the bed and think about my grandma’s
pigeon wing hands, always fluttering, and marvel at how she did anything at all.
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